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Tyres  /  Tyre NewsPerformance Tyres  / VW Golf MK 8.5

New VW Golf 8.5 celebrates 50 years with impressive tech and power upgrades

VW Golf GTI 8.5

After months of teasers and spy shots the new Mk 8.5 Golf finally bares all. Find out what’s changed, and why the beloved manual ‘box has been dropped, below.

Here it is, the new VW Golf. No, really, look closer. Ok, so the lightly revised styling isn’t the main story here — more on that later — but given VW’s history of evolutionary design, you’re hardly surprised.  

Since the original Golf took the world by storm some 50 years ago, each subsequent model has faced a gargantuan weight of expectation; some thrived under the pressure, others crumbled. So, it’s understandable, forgivable even, why Wolfsburg’s finest don’t want to upset the applecart with some valorous design that backfires big time.  

The Golf has long preferred to earn its medals and stripes based on the strength of its character, not the prettiness of its frock. But, with recent iterations failing to generate the same interest as before (VW’s own Tiguan now outsells the enduring hatch), the new Golf needs to have something distinctive up its sleeve.

VW Golf 8.5 interior
Cabin ergonomics have been carefully considered for Mk 8.5: physical steering wheel buttons now replace the old capacitive touch items.
Image credit: VW

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Luckily, it does. Mk 8.5’s party piece is its overhauled technology. Software and hardware have both been updated, resulting in a much faster processor that’s matched to a more intuitive operating system. That’s great, but hardly revolutionary, is it? Well, actually, the Golf promises to be the first car from a major marque to boast ChatGPT integration —VW plans to roll out the AI program on other future models to provide “enriching conversations” and answer questions.  

The new Golf should also make life easier if you struggle with parking. Both parallel and bay parking can be executed autonomously at the click of a button, although VW’s had that technology for years. The real star of the show is Park Assist Pro, which allows the car to extricate itself from a tight spot (such as in a cramped multistorey car park) without a driver behind the wheel. All this and more can be controlled via an app on the driver’s smartphone.  

If that’s a bit too iRobot for you, you’ll be happy to hear VW hasn’t stopped there with the upgrades. A new engine line-up offers improved electric range, faster charging, and added power for the hybrid models — thanks to a larger 19.7kWh lithium-ion battery. While the venerable GTI has also received a welcome 19-bhp boost for a 261-bhp total. Sadly, though, the GTI’s excellent manual gearbox has been retired in favour of a more efficient — and popular among buyers — DSG unit.

VW Golf 8.5 Rear
The GTI's horseshoe-design alloys remind us of those fitted to a certain Italian brand... Image credit:  VW

Subtle though the styling tweaks may be, they are there. The front and rear lights have both been ‘revamped’, with top-spec models receiving IQ.LIGHT LED matrix units that can illuminate up to 500 metres ahead. There’s also a back-lit VW badge for the first time on a Golf, as well as reshaped bumpers, air-intakes, and door sills. Nothing groundbreaking, but every little bit helps.  

With the all-electric Golf 9’s 2028 arrival drawing ever closer, VW’s suite of upgrades to the ICE model should be enough to carry combustion power over the line. But have they done enough to persuade SUV loyalists to hang up their Tiguan keys and give the Golf another go? The clincher could well lie in the (as yet undisclosed) asking price.  

Looking to make the upgrade to a MK 8.5? We’ll keep you posted with the latest on pricing and delivery dates.

Hero image credit:  VW

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